Nord Stream 2 AG has presented its proposal for a biodiversity conservation strategy for the Kurgalsky nature reserve in Russia. The company invited a range of environmental authorities, NGOs, experts and scientists to an open dialogue on this strategy at a round table in St Petersburg. The approach has been supported by the Committee for Natural Resources of the Leningrad Region.
Among the participants were representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Leningrad regional government, including the Committee of Natural Resources, scientific institutes, environmental NGOs and experts.
To develop the conservation strategy, Nord Stream 2 launched a complex biodiversity study programme across the entire Kurgalsky peninsula in summer 2017. The study was conducted in line with established international methodology over six months to assess vegetation cover features, clarify the distribution of rare protected species of vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens and fungi, amphibians, reptiles, birds, terrestrial mammals and geomorphological features of the nature reserve.
“The scope of our study in Kurgalsky included mapping rare species throughout the entire reserve, in addition to the already known habitats of certain species,” said Dr. Elena Chaadaeva, an expert at ECOPROJECT, the company that carried out the complex biological study. “In line with international practices, we carried out the route surveys along identified research transects in the southern and northern parts of the peninsula and registered every occurrence of rare species."
The outcomes of the study, including the results of a critical habitat assessment and a Ramsar integrity assessment, were presented at the round table by Russian and international experts from several environmental consultancies. The biodiversity study, performed in the area for the first time on such a scale, has made it possible to obtain scientifically consistent and synchronous data on the ecology of the whole Kurgalsky peninsula. In addition to an accurate assessment of the distribution of valuable habitats throughout the reserve, the study identified areas of concern due to anthropogenic or natural processes that could lead to degradation of biodiversity values.
A Critical Habitat Assessment was also performed by leading global environmental consultancy ERM to verify whether endangered species or habitats are present within the general area of influence of the project. They confirmed initial assumptions that the overall Kurgalsky peninsula qualifies as a critical habitat under IFC PS6. The assessment concluded that, although no measurable adverse effects on the integrity and ecological functions of the Kurgalsky reserve will occur as a result of the project implementation, Nord Stream 2 should strive to achieve a net environmental gain for the Kurgalsky area.
“Based on the design and information made available to ERM, we have concluded that the Nord Stream 2 project will have no significant effect on the ability of the Kurgalsky reserve to function as a Ramsar site. It will continue to support the habitats, species and processes for which it was designated,” ERM Technical Drector Les Hatton said. “Developing a robust Biodiversity Action Plan will enable Nord Stream 2 to meet its obligations to international environmental standards compliance.”
The round table in St Petersburg enabled an open and broad discussion of the proposed strategy, in addition to providing Nord Stream 2 with relevant feedback. The next step for Nord Stream 2 will be developing a detailed Biodiversity Action Plan for the Kurgalsky reserve as a sustainable and long-term commitment. To ensure full adherence to the IFC PS, the study results and the proposed biodiversity action plan will be scrutinised by independent environmental consultants who have been working on the project’s documentation since 2016.
The biodiversity action plan is a key component of the Environmental and Community Initiatives Strategy developed by Nord Stream 2 for the landfall in Russia. Nord Stream 2 aims to implement the plan in continued co-operation with relevant authorities and experts.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldpipelines.com/project-news/25012018/kurgalsky-biodiversity-conservation-proposal-from-nord-stream-2/